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ARIN's registry and transfer policies can help bridge the gap from IPv4 to IPv6

Marc Lindsey, President and Co-founder, Avenue 4 LLC | Sept. 10, 2015
But the market must provide for greater trading transparency and security.

ARINs registry and transfer policies can help bridge the gap from IPv4 to IPv6
Credit: ARIN

The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) is, for all practical purposes, out of numbers. Until IPv6 displaces IPv4 as the dominant protocol over the coming decade, IP network operators will have to depend on the IPv4 market to obtain their IP addresses.

For the market to handle the expected trading volume and more firmly establish itself as an effective means of globally re-distributing unused IP numbers, it must provide for greater trading transparency and security. ARIN and its registry are central to both. A more accurate registry would reliably establish the rightful holders of IP address blocks, allowing buyers to act more confidently, drive out registry scamming, and reduce the time and effort necessary to set aside unmarketable blocks.

Regarding registry accuracy, buyers of IP number blocks rely on ARIN’s registry to confirm the legitimacy of the seller. Sellers and their advisors look to the registry to help assess the marketability of the address space they plan to sell. However, the registry contains missing and outdated information. Many address blocks are registered to entities that no longer exist because they have been merged into, or acquired by, other organizations, but the successor organizations have not updated their registration records.

Other blocks are truly abandoned -- with no surviving entity around to claim them. To compound the problem, some registrants enter into arrangements that either temporarily or permanently give a third party the right to use their numbers without submitting to ARIN’s transfer processes, resulting in registry records that mask the identity of the organization that actually controls the numbers.

Millions of IPv4 numbers are impacted by these faulty records. As a consequence, ARIN’s registry cannot, in many cases, be relied upon as the definitive single source for establishing the rightful holders of IPv4 address space.

Targeted changes in ARIN’s policies would promote greater registry accuracy by reducing incentives for entities holding IP numbers to circumvent or avoid ARIN’s registry. A more accurate registry would not only enable the market to effectively and efficiently move IPv4 numbers into the hands of those organizations most in need, it would also provide better data for network operators, law enforcement, researchers and others who depend on ARIN’s registry records to identify the real parties in control of specific IP address space.

Here is what is needed:

* Simplifying merger and acquisitions transfers: To update the registry to reflect a change in control of a block arising from a corporate merger or acquisition, the acquiring entity must show ARIN the acquirer obtained the network or IT assets used by the original registrant in accordance with ARIN’s policies (ARIN does not recognize IPv4 numbers as assets that can be separately bought and sold). ARIN then assesses all of the acquiring entity’s IPv4 number blocks to determine whether its combined number holdings post- acquisition are “justified” under ARIN policies. If not, then ARIN “will work with the resource holder(s) as needed to return or transfer resources as needed to restore compliance . . . .”


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